Accession Number:



Dont Just Hear, Listen: The Criticality of Accepting Local Nationals Priorities in Stability Operations

Descriptive Note:

[Technical Report, Monograph]

Corporate Author:

US Army School for Advanced Military Studies

Personal Author(s):

Report Date:


Pagination or Media Count:



This monograph suggests an explanation for the US-led international coalitions challenges during their stabilization efforts in Afghanistan between 2003 and 2018. The theory of a hierarchy of needs argues that lower-level needs must be sufficiently provided before addressing higher-level needs. Consequently, from the local populations perspective, security needs are subordinate to basic physiological needs. However, the intervening forces implemented a Shape-Clear-Hold-Build-Transition approach, which prioritized security over everything else. A possible solution to that dilemma is to address both needs simultaneously rather than sequentially. The study used qualitative data analysis and examined eighty-two interviews with American and Afghan officials, conducted by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction SIGAR. The results indicate that a phased approach focused on security first had no impact or a negative impact on stabilization efforts outcomes. At the same time, attempts that simultaneously addressed security and reconstruction, based on an understanding of locals needs and their priorities, consistently led to better and longer-lasting results. More research is necessary to validate the suggested theoretical construct. However, assuming the findings hold true, the authors conclusions offer possible improvements to designing, planning, and implementing future stability operations.

Subject Categories:

  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

Distribution Statement:

[A, Approved For Public Release]